The Main Differences Between High School and College

You've successfully made it through moving in. You've already begun meeting new friends in your floor or residence hall and you've experienced the greatness that is welcome week. Now it's time to buckle down and remember the real reason you came to IU - school. 

We all know going from high school to college is a major transition. But before you step into your first college class, it's important to understand some of the changes, big and small. Here are some differences I noticed right away on my first few days of classes:

1. The hours of your school day. 

You probably had to wake up very early to start your day in high school (I started at 7:30), but in college you have some control over what time you start classes. Unless your first class is at 8 a.m., chances are you get to sleep a little later in the mornings than you would have in high school. Your day may also end much earlier or much later than high school depending on your schedule, but you also have some control over that. I've had days that ended at 1 p.m. and others that ended after 5 p.m. You may even have a class at night!

Also, you won't likely start and end at the same times each day. Your classes may start at 9:30 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays but not until 11:15 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You may or may not have classes on Fridays. It's important to remember during your first few weeks on campus what day of the week it is so you get to the right place at the right time!

2. Breaks between classes. 

In high school, you probably had only 3-5 minutes between classes. Now, you could have as little as 15 minutes or as many as several hours between classes. I always try to schedule at least 30 minutes between classes so I don't have to sprint to my next destination (unless the next class is in the same building or in one nearby). With an hour or two between classes, you have the opportunity to eat, relax a little, get some work done, leisurely walk to your next class or run errands on campus. My favorite place to go during breaks is the union! It's much better than rushing through the halls of your high school. And unless your break is really long (more than 2 hours), I don't recommend going home to take a nap between classes. It's tempting, but it'll be very hard to get up and go back to class. 

3. Freedom to come and go. 

If you were late to classes in high school, you may have been written up or given a detention. Well, those don't exist in college! However, if you're late to class - even a few minutes late - you could fall behind or miss something important. I've discovered that classes usually start right on time; I recommend getting there 5-10 minutes early if you can! 

You can usually leave early or leave in the middle of class to use the bathroom, but it is a little awkward to stand up in the middle of a lecture or discussion and have everyone looking at you as you open the door (and then come back in). Unlike high school, you won't need a special pass or permission from the instructor to leave the room. Just consider what important information you might be missing by leaving early! 

4. Laptops in the classroom. 

It's not unusual for professors - particularly in big lecture classes so common during freshman year - to allow you to have your laptop out during class to take notes. Sometimes your professor goes through the material pretty quickly, and the best way to keep up is to type instead of scribbling in a paper notebook. You might even have a professor who has you download notes to fill in during lecture or who puts entire notes online after class! But be careful not to browse the Internet or play games during class, you could miss important material! Some professors don't allow laptops for that very reason. 

5. More responsibility. 

Now that you're in college, you won't have someone reminding you all the time to do your homework, go to class, study for that test and get enough sleep for the next day. It's up to you to keep track of all your assignments and make sure to fit everything you need to do into your busy schedule. 

While the transition from high school to college may seem a little scary, it's one of the most exciting times. Get ready for the best four years of your life - but don't forget about doing well in school!

Want more advice on how to succeed in college classes? Check out these articles!

About The Author
Alyssa SchorProud IU Student, Class of 2016

Hello Hoosiers! My name is Alyssa Schor and I'm a journalism major specializing in public relations with a minor in psychology. I've previously written for the Indiana Daily Student and this fall will serve as editor-in-chief of The Odyssey, a publication geared for students in Greek life. It's the perfect cross between my passion for Greek life, my skills in journalism and my career goals in PR.

I'm a member of the PR committee for IU Dance Marathon and have also helped out the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) with their annual Greek media training event. I like chocolate and food in general a lot, and you'll occasionally find me at Hillel eating their delicious challah and matzah ball soup (or whatever else they're serving that day). 

This is now my third year (what?!) blogging for, and I keep doing it because I'm so excited to share my stories with you and serve as a great resource for current and future IU students. If there is anything you want me to write about, let me know!